Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Dog Days of My Life: #4 - Whisky

I was twenty-one when the next dog came into my life. She was a three-year-old yellow Labrador called Whisky and was a birthday present from my husband before we were married. She had been destined for a show career and we were told that she had 'done well' at Cruft's. Unfortunately her owner developed serious back trouble and couldn't keep her. Barry took her to live with him in the Officers' Mess at Shrivenham as I was still at college.

Whisky was beautiful and she was house-trained and that was all! Barry had to give her a crash course in acceptable behaviour as she was to accompany him everywhere - to University lectures, to the Mess for meals, to the pub some evenings. She was a quick learner but remained an inveterate thief, gently and quickly swiping items from people's hands, shopping baskets, shop fronts. When blackberries were in season she would suck them from the brambles as she passed. She was also gun shy which didn't matter to us but would have been a problem if we had liked shooting. Barry was a cross-country runner and went out daily but Whisky didn't enjoy running and would turn round after a short distance and make her way home.

Sometimes I took her to school with me and she helped nervous children overcome their fear of dogs. She would climb on my lap while they were working so that when they looked up again they saw her lovely face rather than mine. When we pushed back the desks for 'Music and Movement' she gleefully joined in as they pranced round the classroom.

In the very cold winter (by UK standards) a couple of months before our first daughter was born Whisky became very sick. The vet thought she had eaten rat poison and his prognosis was grim. Barry got up every three hours to feed her a spoonful of baby food and she gradually recovered and regained her strength. She lived on for another twelve years, a gentle and loving companion.

She didn't like ladders or buses and always barked at them. The only time she ever showed any mild aggression was one night when Barry came home very late. We had two very young children then and Whisky felt it was her duty to protect the three of us while the Master was away. As Barry came through the door she barged him over then realised who he was and was overcome with remorse.

Whisky was a delightful and affectionate character and a perfect introduction to dogs for three of our children. (Bethan was born after Whisky had travelled on.) One day when Gareth was a very small boy he was sitting on my lap and put one finger in each of her nostrils – they were a perfect fit. I only realised what had happened when I heard her panting and looked down; she had made no attempt to move away from what must have been a very uncomfortable situation.

When Susannah was about a year old we decided to have another dog, a companion for Whisky and a means of easing her inevitable passing for our children. Whisky was not impressed by the newcomer but was noted surreptitiously sniffing her when she thought she wasn't being watched.

Never again would we have only one dog.

Whisky, like all Labradors, loved water.


  1. What a lovely post. Whisky must have been a marvellous dog. We also had a yellow labrador in my teens and my father named him Jason. I grew up with dogs and have fond memories of all of them, but have not had a dog now for a very long time. I miss having one but it isn't in the cards right now. One day hopefully.

  2. Thank you Denise. We were always going to change Whisky's name but we never did. Hope your 'dog days' return soon!


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